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2009 KTM 450 EXC-R Leaking Piston and Rattling Engine HELP!

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Yesterday my dad and I rode about 130mi in back roads (I just got my permit). He rode his BMW R1200GSA and I rode his KTM 450 EXC-R. It began overheating at stop lights, and we had to take a break to let it cool. When we looked at the piston, there appeared to be coolant leaking from it (see pics). We got back to our garage and we filled it with more coolant because it was fairly low. This morning I started it up, and while I rode it around the front yard there was an audible rattling sound coming from the engine internals. I'm no bike mechanic, and I definitely have little experience with KTM's, does anyone know what could be causing this issue? Also, the bike isn't used to riding at the speeds we were going. It had been used for offroad %98 of the time we have owned it (we bought it new) and we were cruising at about 45-55 mph for roughly 3hrs.

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Time for a teardown. Almost impossible to tell what exactly is happening to it, but at the least....head gasket. Depending on how many hours are on it, might be wise to take a look at everything while it is apart.

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The rattling is probably the cam chain tensioner. They are a weak spot on this engine. Mine made it to 219 hours before failing. When they fail you know it, because it sounds like a bunch of marbles are flying around in your engine.LOL.

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The rattling is probably the cam chain tensioner. They are a weak spot on this engine. Mine made it to 219 hours before failing. When they fail you know it, because it sounds like a bunch of marbles are flying around in your engine.LOL.
It has a more of a slapping noise to it. Could that still be the tensioner? Is it difficult to replace? My worry right now is that I'll open it up to fix it, and cause a higher cost in damage to the engine then I would have by just leaving it alone and bringing it to a shop.

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Hard to say, I know mine sounded terrible. I hope that is all that is wrong with it. Looks like yours is an 08 from the pictures. That year needs some critcal updates to the oil pump gears as well. The parts are not expensive, but if you are not comfortable working on the motor, a shop might be your best bet.

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Hard to say, I know mine sounded terrible. I hope that is all that is wrong with it. Looks like yours is an 08 from the pictures. That year needs some critcal updates to the oil pump gears as well. The parts are not expensive, but if you are not comfortable working on the motor, a shop might be your best bet.
Haha, close, its an '09. There are no KTM dealerships in Virginia currently, but my dad knows a KTM mechanic so we'll probably just get him to check it out and see whats up. Sadly, I don't know any motorcycle mechanics that are willing to teach me how to work on bikes, or any schools that teach you about bikes. How did you guys learn? Most of my dirt bike mechanical knowledge is from trial and error :wacko:

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That bike is rife with neglect, maybe let a mechanic get that bike back to where it belongs............

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That bike is rife with neglect, maybe let a mechanic get that bike back to where it belongs............
I take as good care of it as I can. Its not clean in that picture because I didn't want to clean off the anti-freeze (then I wouldnt be able to show the issue!) But its clean now. And it had the valves adjusted and some other things check a month or two ago. But I'm young and still learning things everyday. At least I try! Unlike other people that want to know "what color powerband I have in the bike" and others ask if I have nitrous or a supercharger installed xD

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i see a few leaks, built up muck on the gear shift (that quantity takes a while), a rusty swingarm bolt (no greasing), and none of the fasteners look like they've seen a wrench. Im not trying to slam you, but if you dont do regular maintainence, a top end (or any internal repairs) should be left to the pros.

Edited by ickfinger
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That bike is rife with neglect, maybe let a mechanic get that bike back to where it belongs............

Agree, it looks like crap, and that's only one little picture telling me that.....who knows what condition the engine is in!?

When was the last time you checked valves OP? How regular are oil changes being done? How many hrs on the bike?

Edited by originalmonk

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I also dont think that 45-55 mph for 3hrs is what that engine was designed for. Its more for connecting trails legally than street riding. Im guessing a complete rebuild, engine and chassis will give that bike some life. Then open up the manuals (ktm equips each bike with good ones, you should already have it) and learn how to maintain and keep at it!Check oil level before each ride, Oil changes should be done every month at least, depending on use. Clean air filter after every long, dirty or dusty ride (keep a clean spare oiled, stored in a plastic bag). Just these simple things will ensure a long engine life. Turn off the fuel, open drain screw on bottom of carb, and run it out of gas EVERY time its gonna sit for a while. These carbs are not novice friendly and if they get gummed up from todays crap fuels, they can be impossible to get running right again. You have access to a truly great bike that deserves all the love and attention it can get. good luck!

Edited by ickfinger

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I learned almost everything I know about dirt bikes from my dad. Currently im 15 years old and I do regular oil changes 2-4 times a year depending on the amount of riding that is being done. My dad's bike maintenence knowledge doesnt extend past changing the oil, lubing the chain, and tightening the chain. Can you guys tell me what I need to do to get it back into tip top shape? I'm on summer break, so I have a ton of time (on a budget though) and I would like you guys to write out a list of things I need to do with links to videos, manuals, or explanations on how to do them. Also an explanation on why and how often I need to do these things would be great. I'm also willing to take more pictures of specific areas of the bike if you need them.

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Okay, I'm stupid. I thought it was an '09 for a long time. Turns out u giys were right, its an '08. Also got 80.4 hrs on it. I dont think its ever gotten a new top end. Valves have been adjusted ONCE in the whole time we've owned it. I don't know what bearings are. What and where is a swingarm bolt and how do I maintain it? The muck on the gearshift and skidplate is a combination of chainlube, mud, and riding on the street from the past couple of days (its cleaned right off). What are fasteners, where are they, how often should I adjust them, how should I adjust them, and to what degree should I adjust them? This is all new to me guys, so please fill me in with as much detail as you can. I love working on bikes (I've restored a crf50 and crf70 and prepped them both for proper storage) and I want to learn how to work on the big bikes.

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I also dont think that 45-55 mph for 3hrs is what that engine was designed for. Its more for connecting trails legally than street riding. Im guessing a complete rebuild, engine and chassis will give that bike some life. Then open up the manuals (ktm equips each bike with good ones, you should already have it) and learn how to maintain and keep at it!Check oil level before each ride, Oil changes should be done every month at least, depending on use. Clean air filter after every long, dirty or dusty ride (keep a clean spare oiled, stored in a plastic bag). Just these simple things will ensure a long engine life. Turn off the fuel, open drain screw on bottom of carb, and run it out of gas EVERY time its gonna sit for a while. These carbs are not novice friendly and if they get gummed up from todays crap fuels, they can be impossible to get running right again. You have access to a truly great bike that deserves all the love and attention it can get. good luck!
Yeah, it wasn't meant for the type of riding I did that day. I don't have enough money for a total rebuild either. I was unaware that you had do that much maintenece on these bikes! I'll definitely try to do everything you suggested. And I do have the manual, but I don't understand how to check the engine oil level on my EXC-R. I attempted to follow the instructions, but I only know how to check oil level with a dipstick. Can anyone help me with that too? Hahaha, I feel like such a moron now after learning that I wasn't keeping the bike maintained correctly.

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Thats a lot of questions! Do you have the manuals? As a rule of thumb, any piece that moves needs a bearring/bushing to keep moving freely between 2 surfaces. Fasteners are nuts bolts and screws. You need a torque wrench to correctly tighten stuff till you get a "feel" for it. When learning, try and only use 1/4" drive ratchets (it'll save you from breaking stuff, somewhat). The swingarm bolt is that big rusty one that goes thru frame/swingarm/engine, down by the footpegs. When these bearrings wear out, you can do damage to major components.

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a rusty swingarm bolt (no greasing)

How should I go about greasing the swingarm bolt? I have lithium grease that I could use, but I have never heard of greasing anything on a bike. Is there anything else that should be greased? Also could you tell me their specific locations?

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Geared properly, 3 hours on the highway, with plenty of cooling airflow, is much easier on the engine than 3 hours of 1st and 2nd gear single track. Not exactly comfortable for the rider though. Just my opinion.

WB, with only 80 hours on the engine, it shouldn't need a topend, unless it's burning oil. It will probably need the oil pump gear update,a hardparts fan kit, timing chain tensioner, and by the looks of the picture some TLC on the countershaft seal.

If you are determined to do the repairs yourself, first get the thing cleaned up, so you can see what you've got. Then remove the seat, tank, airfilter, chain and brake pads and clean it again. In addition to basic hand tools (1/4 drive stuff is a great idea), pick up a torque wrench and a service manual.

Edited by 556er

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